Questioner: I used to take drugs but now I am free of them. Why am I so frightened of everything? I wake up in the mornings paralysed with fear. I can hardly move out of bed. I’m frightened of going outside, and I’m frightened of being inside. Suddenly as I drive along this fear comes upon me, and I spend a whole day sweating, nervous, apprehensive, and at the end of the day I’m completely exhausted. Sometimes, though very rarely, in the company of a few intimate friends or at the house of my parents, I lose this fear; I feel quiet, happy, completely relaxed. As I came along in my car today, I was frightened of coming to see you, but as I came up the drive and walked to the door I suddenly lost this fear, and now as I sit here in this nice quiet room I feel so happy that I wonder what I was ever frightened about. Now I have no fear. I can smile and truthfully say: I’m very glad to see you! But I can’t stay here for ever, and I know that when I leave here the cloud of fear will engulf me again. That is what I’m faced with. I’ve been to ever so many psychiatrists and analysts, here and abroad, but they merely delve into my memories of childhood – and I’m fed up with it because the fear hasn’t gone at all.
Krishnamurti: Let’s forget childhood memories and all that nonsense, and come to the present. Here you are, and you say you are not frightened now; you’re happy for the moment and can hardly imagine the fear you were in. Why have you no fear now? Is it the quiet, clear, well-proportioned room, furnished with good taste, and this sense of welcoming warmth which you feel? Is that why you are not frightened now?
Questioner: That’s part of it. Also perhaps it is you. I heard you talk in Switzerland, and I’ve heard you here, and I feel a kind of deep friendship for you. But I don’t want to depend on nice houses, welcoming atmospheres and good friends in order not to be afraid. When I go to my parents I have this same feeling of warmth. But it is deadly at home; all families are deadly with their little enclosed activities, their quarrels, and the vulgarity of all that loud talk about nothing, and their hypocrisy. I’m fed up with it all. And yet, when I go to them and there is this certain warmth, I do feel, for a while, free of this fear. The psychiatrists can’t tell me what my fear is about. They call it a “floating fear”. It’s a black, bottomless, ghastly pit. I’ve spent a great deal of money and time on being analysed and it really hasn’t helped at all. So what am I to do?
Krishnamurti: Is it that being sensitive you need a certain shelter, a certain security, and not being able to find it, you are frightened of the ugly world? Are you sensitive?
Questioner: Yes, I think so. Perhaps not in the way you mean, but I am sensitive. I don’t like the noise, the bustle, the vulgarity of this modern existence and the way they throw sex at you everywhere you go today, and the whole business of fighting your way to some beastly little position. I am really frightened of all this – not that I can’t fight and get a position for myself, but it makes me sick with fear.
Krishnamurti: Most people who are sensitive need a quiet shelter and a warm friendly atmosphere. Either they create it for themselves or depend on others who can give it to them – the family the wife, the husband, the friend. Have you got such a friend?
Questioner: No. I’m frightened of having such a friend. I’m frightened of being dependent on him.
Krishnamurti: So there is this issue; being sensitive, demanding a certain shelter, and depending on others to give you that shelter. There is sensitivity, and dependence; the two often go together. And to depend on another is to fear losing him. So you depend more and more, and then the fear increases in proportion to your dependence. It is a vicious circle. Have you enquired why you depend? We depend on the postman, on physical comfort and so on; that’s quite simple. We depend on people and things for our physical well-being and survival; it is quite natural and normal. We have to depend on what we may call the organizational side of society. But we also depend psychologically, and this dependence, though comforting, breeds fear. Why do we depend psychologically?
Questioner: You’re talking to me about dependence now, but I came here to discuss fear.
Krishnamurti: Let’s examine them both because they are interrelated as we shall see. Do you mind if we discuss them both? We were talking about dependence. What is dependence? Why does one psychologically depend on another? Isn’t dependence the denial of freedom? Take away the house, the husband, the children, the possessions – what is a man if all these are removed? In himself he is insufficient, empty, lost. So out of this emptiness, of which he is afraid, he depends on property, on people and beliefs. You may be so sure of all the things you depend on that you can’t imagine ever losing them – the love of your family, and the comfort. Yet fear continues. So we must be clear that any form of psychological dependence must inevitably breed fear, though the things you depend on may seem almost indestructible. Fear arises out of this inner insufficiency, poverty and emptiness. So now, do you see, we have three issues – sensitivity, dependence and fear? The three are interrelated. Take sensitivity: the more sensitive you are (unless you understand how to remain sensitive without dependence, how to be vulnerable without agony), the more you depend. Then take dependence: the more you depend, the more there is disgust and the demand to be free. This demand for freedom encourages fear, for this demand is a reaction, not freedom from dependence.
Questioner: Are you dependent on anything?
Krishnamurti: Of course I’m dependent physically on food, clothes and shelter, but psychologically, inwardly, I’m not dependent on anything – not on gods, not on social morality, not on belief, not on people. But it is irrelevant whether or not I am dependent. So, to continue: fear is the awareness of our inner emptiness, loneliness and poverty, and of not being able to do anything about it. We are concerned only with this fear which breeds dependence, and which is again increased by dependence. If we understand fear we also understand dependence. So to understand fear there must be sensitivity to discover, to understand how it comes into being. If one is at all sensitive one becomes conscious of one’s own extraordinary emptiness – a bottomless pit which cannot be filled by the vulgar entertainment of drugs nor by the entertainment of the churches, nor the amusements of society: nothing can ever fill it. Knowing this the fear increases. This drives you to depend, and this dependence makes you more and more insensitive. And knowing this is so, you are frightened of it. So our question now is: how is one to go beyond this emptiness, this loneliness – not how is one to be self-sufficient, not how is one to camouflage this emptiness permanently?
Questioner: Why do you say it is not a question of becoming self-sufficient?
Krishnamurti: Because if you are self-sufficient you are no longer sensitive; you become smug and callous, indifferent and enclosed. To be without dependence, to go beyond dependence, doesn’t mean to become self-sufficient. Can the mind face and live with this emptiness, and not escape in any direction?
Questioner: It would drive me mad to think I had to live with it forever.
Krishnamurti: Any movement away from this emptiness is an escape. And this flight away from something, away from “what is,” is fear. Fear is flight away from something. What is is not the fear; it is the flight which is the fear, and this will drive you mad, not the emptiness itself. So what is this emptiness, this loneliness? How does it come about? Surely it comes through comparison and measurement, doesn’t it? I compare myself with the saint, the master, the great musician, the man who knows, the man who has arrived. In this comparison I find myself wanting and insufficient: I have no talent, I am inferior, I have not “realised; I am not, and that man is. So out of measurement and comparison comes the enormous cavity of emptiness and nothingness. And the flight from this cavity is fear. And the fear stops us from understanding this bottomless pit. It is a neurosis which feeds upon itself. And again, this measurement, this comparison, is the very essence of dependence. So we are back again at dependence, a vicious circle.
Questioner: We have come a long way in this discussion and things are clearer. There is dependence; is it possible not to depend? Yes, I think it is possible. Then we have the fear; is it possible not to run away from emptiness at all, which means, not to escape through fear? Yes, I think it is possible. That means we are left with the emptiness. Is it possible then to face this emptiness since we have stopped running away from it through fear? Yes, I think it is possible. Is it possible finally, not to measure, not to compare? For if we have come this far, and I think we have, only this emptiness remains, and one sees that this emptiness is the outcome of comparison. And one sees that dependence and fear are the outcome of this emptiness. So there is comparison, emptiness, fear, dependence. Can I really live a life without comparison, without measurement?
Krishnamurti: Of course you have to measure to put a carpet on the floor!
Questioner: Yes. I mean can I live without psychological comparison?
Krishnamurti: Do you know what it means to live without psychological comparison when all your life you have been conditioned to compare – at school, at games, at the university and in the office? Everything is comparison. To live without comparison! Do you know what it means? It means no dependence, no self-sufficiency, no seeking, no asking; therefore it means to love. Love has no comparison, and so love has no fear. Love is not aware of itself as love, for the word is not the thing.